The Nonprofit Marketing Blog

How to Build Stronger Donor Relationships Right Now: Ideas from Fellow Fundraisers (Part 1)


Have two minutes? Please tell us what you’re doing to strengthen donor relationships and/or what’s in your way. Thanks!

Thanks to these fabulous fundraisers in the field for sharing their right-now paths to stronger relationships with donors and what’s getting in their way!

What one fundraiser is doing differently to build stronger donor relationships.

“I’m creating a welcome pack for new donors and a plan on how to steward them through the first 18 months.”

—Lorna Riddle, community champion, The Mary Potter Foundation

Donor retention is at the top of many fundraisers’ to-do lists, as it should be. There’s no better investment than keeping close to the folks you’ve already invested in to get them there.

The right welcome pack—it doesn’t have to be anything fancy—reinforces the new relationship and gives you another opportunity to say thanks. Use the opportunity to showcase the breadth and depth of your programs here. It’s likely that your new donor came in through one program or the other and will be further engaged by the broader picture.

But don’t stop there. Stewardship is an ongoing process, and a doable plan of periodic touches is the way to keep it going—forever (18 months is not enough). Make sure you have leadership support to allocate your time and budget here.

The greatest challenge this fundraiser faces in strengthening donor relationships.


“I have so many competing priorities! My job has both development and program responsibilities, and sometimes the program side overshadows the development side.


“As a result, I don’t get as much accomplished as I would like in donor engagement and consistency. This perhaps speaks to a larger issue that we need additional staff—a conversation I may pursue this year.”

—Kathleen Kennedy, program and development coordinator, Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection

Sound familiar? Competing priorities (aka not enough time) is the barrier to impact I hear most frequently from fundraisers and communicators alike.

Here’s the thing: You’ll never have enough time to do everything, even with additional staff or consultants. So don’t stop there.

In addition, invest the time to articulate your absolute priorities for the next six months, based on your organizational goals for the same period. Since your role incorporates two functions, that means you’ll really have to make some hard choices to pinpoint what actions will contribute most to moving your organization forward.

Once you’ve done that, discuss with your leadership to see where there’s agreement or redirection. Revise as necessary, and follow this plan to accomplish your real priorities for right now. Bonus: greater satisfaction in doing the most important things right and a far greater chance of increased impact.


Have two minutes? Please tell us what you’re doing to strengthen donor relationships and/or what’s in your way. Thanks!

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About This Blog

Linda Lombardi
Content Manager

We’re here to help you win hearts and minds—and donations.

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